Alexis Comerford, a 17-year-old senior at Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers, has plenty of brains and plenty of talent, but when she plays Lola in “Damn Yankees” this weekend, she’ll have to put an emphasis on the latter. Even though the show’s venue is the basement of a church, Lola is bent on seduction.
The show tells the story of Joe Boyd, a sad sack fan of the Washington Senators who’d sell his soul if his team would just beat the Yankees. He makes a deal with the devil and becomes Joe Hardy, a phenom who leads the Senators to greatness, but he’s finagled an escape clause that will let him wriggle free of the deal.
Sensing unacceptable defeat, the devil – Mr. Applegate (Patrick Murphy) – calls the netherworld for reinforcements.
He calls Lola.
“She’s trying to take Joe away from his wife because he wants to go back to his wife and break his deal with the devil,” Comerford says. “It’s Lola’s job to make sure he doesn’t break the deal.”
When she arrives, she’s certain she’ll succeed, Comerford says.
“Lola’s so dramatic and trying to be the best. She tells Applegate, ‘Chief, I’m awfully good at making men forget their wives. This is a routine case. I’ll give him the standard vampire treatment.’
“That’s very Lola,” Comerford says.
She certainly has done this before, says Lola, as she sings “A Little Brains, A Little Talent”:
“I took the zing out of the King of Siam.
I took the starch out of the sails
Of the Prince of Wales.
It’s no great art, gettin’ the heart of a man
On a silver platter.
A little brains, a little talent
With the emphasis on the latter!”
Before too long, Applegate ushers her into the Senators locker room, where she does her best to win Joe’s affections.
What she comes up with is the song “Whatever Lola Wants,” which starts:
“Whatever Lola wants
And little man, little Lola wants you.”
Despite all of Lola’s efforts, it soon becomes clear that Hardy is impervious to her charms.
“He’s getting nervous, but it’s not fazing him the way I want it to faze him,” Comerford says. It just so happens he loves his wife.
Choreographer Davyd H. Suber Jr. says he was looking to balance comedy and sex appeal in “Whatever Lola Wants.”
“Over the course of the song, she has to become more and more frustrated that her usual moves aren’t working.
“I have her go after him more, and pull him in more and drag him in, until she’s pulling out all the stops and it still doesn’t work,” Suber says. “We gradually go from subtle to bigger to bigger to grand to this is it.”
On the receiving end of all that attention is Luis Baerga as Joe Hardy.
“He’s definitely a little nervous about it, and he doesn’t really want Lola to be all … you know,” Comerford says. The “you know” is seductive and slinky and flirtatious.
If she finds it hard to say the words, Comerford’s not finding it hard to play the scene with Baerga.
“We’re really great friends, so it’s fun to work with someone you’re so friendly with,” she says.
Suber says their friendship was actually something of a hurdle.
“Luis has to play shocked, surprised and happy,” the choreographer says. “In a way, it’s a problem that they’re friends because his natural instinct is to be comfortable with her. He has to act uncomfortable with her.”
Baerga says being the object of all that affection took some getting used to.
“It’s not easy to keep a straight face,” he says. “But after practicing it a lot, you get the giggles out and you get used to it.”
If he’s suffering under Lola’s wiles, he can’t let on. He sits stoically throughout, portraying all his feelings on his face.
“I don’t say anything through the whole number,” he says.
Lola’s saying plenty for both of them.
Where: Sacred Heart High School, 34 Convent Ave., Yonkers.
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday.
Tickets: $10; $8 for seniors and students.
With: Billy Du Ross, Alyssa Benjamin, Luis Baerga, Patrick Murphy, Alexis Comerford, Dan Fennell, Daniel Villeo, Bryant Jager, Joe Mahoney, Devin O’Rourke, Anthony Ragusa, Tori Staruch, Ryan Moeller, Dashay Smith-Garcia, Joe Mahoney, Andrew Holowczak, Michelle Muzzio, Tia Fabi, Maggie Griswold, Charlotte Hoar, Freddy Alegria, Jesus Munguio, Brendan O’Rourke, Rocco De Rose, Andres Ramirez, Clinton Canastra, Amanda Alegria, Ashlee Carey, Kellie Wright, Liza-Anne Francisco, Elizabeth Mancuso, Samantha Alvarez, Ray Eromosele, Kiamesha Robinson, Molly Stazzone, Nicolette Cork, Kaitlyn Cox, Brittany Halterman, Gaby Naranjo, Kristen Peterson, John Hurley, Anthony Cognatello, Danny Du Ross, Kevin Villa, Paul Allen, Mark Rosado, Matt Vetrano, Jackie Ramales, Noelle Alegado, Jamila Augilar, Tom Urtz, Jamie Lee Bilog, Thadius Lajara, Ellis Almanzar, Anthony Nash, Michael Oliveira, Jessica Reider, Eric Rumore, Ashley Paguio, Chrisabel Ampah, Kimberly Lewis, Elina Paniagua, Stephanie Zatkovich, Jiselle Alvarez, Eduardo Duenas, Iris Guerra, Eric Rumore, William May.
Watch video interviews with Alexis Comerford as Lola and Luis Baerga as Joe Hardy at www.lohud.com/localtheater.